Moments over math

Sunset

For someone who has always believed she’s terrible at math, I sure crunch a lot of numbers.

Cost of gas.
Cost of groceries.
Sale price at 20 percent off.
Number of minutes to work.
Number of minutes to my parents’ house.
Number of minutes on my lunch break.
Number of miles on a road trip.
Cost of that latte.
Cost versus just making that latte at home.

The numbers are everywhere — all around me. Admittedly, I spend most of that “number-crunching” time calculating how long it’s going to take me from Point A to Point B . . . because I’m punctual.

Sometimes too punctual.

I grew up believing tardiness was akin to laziness — and disrespectful. With a military grandfather and parents who just generally worked hard to make sure we showed up on time, I don’t tend to suffer lateness gladly as an adult.

There are exceptions, of course. Living in the D.C. area, we’re acutely aware of how quickly traffic can derail an otherwise flawless plan — and a five- or ten-minute delay is understandable. No big deal. I don’t sit in a restaurant tapping my watch and stamping my feet; I know things happen, and it’s cool.

But a half hour? An hour? A text message with an “I forgot”? Forget about it.

Generally speaking, it takes me 15 minutes to get anywhere in or around my hometown. Fifteen minutes to and from work; 15 minutes to the grocery store; 15 minutes to Lowe’s, where we spend about half of our waking hours these days. Fifteen to see my grandparents. Ten or 15 to see my sister. And on it goes.

Nothing is “close,” exactly, but nothing is far. Downtown Washington is about a 45-minute drive, and we can get nearly anywhere in the vicinity in about an hour. In fact, that’s a carrying joke: Annapolis, Solomons Island, Lexington Park, College Park, D.C.? About an hour.

So I do a lot of math. Calculate times, mileage, Google Maps directions. I don’t like having to rush, and I’d much rather be early than late.

Rushing doesn’t work for me.

At the ripe ol’ age of 29, I’ve already figured out how much I hate having to hurry. If I’m going to feel rushed through a meal or event, I’d rather not go — period. I hate having to constantly check the time, and despise the pit of anxiety that opens in my stomach when I realize I’ve gone over an hour-long lunch break.

It’s a weird quirk, but it’s real.

As an East Coast girl through and through, I’m used to over-scheduling and piling on too much responsibility — sometimes calculating my day down to the hour, to the minute. Before work today? I wrote (most of) this post, edited a batch of photos, started packing for a weekend trip, drank way too much coffee, fixed some code on my dad’s website, answered emails, showered, dressed, etc. — all in about an hour.

About an hour.

Though it feels good to be productive, that “must do this NOW” feeling makes my stomach hurt.

My mission lately — and heading into fall — is to work on slowing down, absorbing, enjoying the moment. Nothing I haven’t pondered before, but now that we’re settled in the house, crossing projects off the list and looking forward to the fresh season?

I want to soak it up. Worry less about constantly being on time and just work toward enjoying that time.

Planning less, hanging more.

Less math, more moments.

A good trade.


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15 thoughts on “Moments over math

  1. This is as good a reason as any to dislike math. I think all of us need to “slow down”. I’m not in your league when it comes to planning out my day or being productive but I do feel like I rush all over the place and then even my “down” time is not what it is supposed to be. It is like I sit there and say “now I’m gonna relax and think, damn it!” With all these outlets for communication I think it is a real struggle to find peace. That’s what I’m looking for.. peace. It might be hidden under the laundry.

    • Totally relate, Charles! Peace may very well be under the laundry, or beneath the dirty dishes, or under that mountain of email and paperwork and junk . . . and yes, even when I plan to sit and just relax, it can be tough to turn my mind off enough to really do that. Hoping we both find some quiet soon!

  2. I hear you. One thing I’ve talked with my best friend about more and more recently is the idea of intentionally taking the tasks out of certain days, certain time periods, to just breathe and enjoy and get off the stress train. It’s common around here: after all, DC is full of Type-A personalities. But it’s okay. We’ll be okay. Good luck!

    • I think that’s a great idea, Cecelia . . . even though it’s tough to do, I’m trying to un-schedule or basically “schedule” time to just work around the house or spend an uninterrupted afternoon with friends/family, etc. I hate the impulse to check the time and worry about getting to “the next thing.”

  3. We always seem to have a bit of maths to do throughout the day but slowing down and planning ahead will do all of us a lot of good without rushing too much.

  4. I am notoriously a few minutes late, and those minutes shame me more the older I become. Because I don’t work outside my home my time is more mine. I like setting my own pace and it often involves time for just a nap!! I love a nap. Life comes in waves, when younger and then with little children around my time was hectic, little down time. Slow down, sip your coffee and enjoy!!

  5. Good for you- you’ll thank yourself in later years (especially if those later years hold children for you) for slowing down now. We are so much alike 🙂 and there’s nothing wrong with being on time- I’m the same way, even pregnant with two toddlers in tow hah! Well.. Almost always!

  6. Beautiful. Slowing down. I need to do it. I need to do it right now. Today has been beyond busy, and I’ve reached 10pm exhausted, emotionally and physically. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Focusing on numbers / have-to’s / lists, etc. seems to be a big northern trend (I’m from MA + am the same way, as are most people I know in New England!). There’s a definite feeling of ‘rush, rush, rush’ when living in the Northeast, but I have forced myself to slow down over the years + ask myself: What’s all the rushing for? It’s hard to slow down, but it can also feel so good to just relax + not worry about all the details. Good luck in slowing down + embracing the moment more this fall 🙂

  8. I love this post. I love this idea of being more present in the moments instead of constantly reviewing the to do list and worrying about future obligations. And yet … when I try to do that, I find it almost impossible. I’ve been trying to weave an meditation practice into my daily life but I find I struggle with the mere concept of emptying my mind because I’m always thinking ahead. I’m always planning or worrying about the items I haven’t been able to check off my to do list. I keep the list to keep those things off my mind and yet they still clutter constantly.

    I’m impressed with your post and your awareness of how you let the numbers fill up your head. And I join you in your resolution to trade int math for moments. Best of luck to the both of us this fall.

  9. You sound like my daughter who is quite the planner. She has lists for lists and never wants to get off track.. Oh and if you go to her house you have to take your shoes off at the front door and tuck your shoelaces inside your shoes… not outside or she will remind you…Nothing is ever out of place in her house or her car…. but then again she doesn’t have any kids yet…

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